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Shaman King takes place in a world not unlike our own. Except in this world, some people can see spirits, and join with them to gain new powers.The story focuses on Yoh Asakura, a seemingly extremely lazy shaman who's partnered with the samurai Amidamaru. Along the way, he meets up with Manta Oyamada (Morty in the dub), a studious and otherwise Ordinary High-School Student who can see ghosts, and who soon becomes Yoh's best friend; Tao Ren (Lenny), a Chinese Perpetual Frowner who was The Lancer in every way; Horohoro (Trey Racer), a snowboarder and the token Ainu; Ryu/Ryo, a delinquent turned Master of the Wooden Sword; Lyserg Diethel, who's looking for his family's killer; and Chocolove (Joco) McDonnell, a reformed gangster who wants to save the world with stand-up comedy. And then there's Anna Kyouyama: Yoh's fiancee, a bit of an Education Mama, who actually cares much more than she lets on.The team is participating in the Shaman Fight, in which shamans from around the world fight for the right to merge with the Crystal Dragon Jesus.This series shows a tremendous amount of research on the part of the author (Hiroyuki Takei, also author of Butsu Zone), since it features shamanistic concepts from many different cultures. Sadly, the manga was Cut Short when its popularity faded. It's now gotten a completely redrawn re-release in Japan under the title of Shaman King Kang Zeng Bangnote a pun on kanzenban, "complete edition" in which the actual ending was released over two more volumes. A Western release of this edition has yet to be announced.The manga ended after 300 chapters. There is a sequel called Shaman King Flowers, which is started April 2012. There's also the supplementary manga Shaman King 0 which tells short stories of the characters before the main one, and Shaman King Remix Track short stories in the reprinted edition of humorous nature.One of the many animes dubbed by 4Kids. The Spanish and Latin Americans also got a translation, and had the Japanese original dubbed in Spanish with only a bit of Cultural Translation and pretty decent casts. Both the 4Kids dub and a local language dub were shown in the Philippines, leading to inevitable comparisons and some confusion.Not to be confused with the manhwaShaman Warrior.
Adults Are Useless: Semi-inverted. An interesting case where the parents know exactly what's going on with their kids. They have decided to leave the fate of the world to their children, seeing how they have their limits and their children can still grow. Subverted with Faust, an adult who is a valuable asset to the team.
Aerith and Bob: While there is a decent amount of this throughout the series, the X-Laws provide a great example. They consist of: Marco, Dingbat, Larch, Venstar, Porf and finally... Minnie and Kevin.
Affably Evil: Hao/Zeke in the anime qualifies big time, smiling and acting cheery while doing extremely horrible things.
The key word here is "acting". It's rather hard to tell when he's switching between this and Faux Affably Evil.
Probably also qualifies as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, at least at one time in his life. See his ultimate goal to create a shaman-only utopia in order to 'save' the world from humans who are either, in his mind, contributing to its annihilation through ignorance or though simply not doing anything to stop it or change.
All There in the Manual: Hao's past is explained in a side story of all things. Though it sort makes sense since, nobody around but him knew about it.
Art Evolution: Two gradual, yet noticeable improvements in style. Compare the early chapters with middle chapters and then those with the chapters toward the end and the overall quality improves drastically.
Author Appeal: Allegedly, Anna was written as the kind of woman the author likes. Since she was a Canon Immigrant from a former manga by the same author, this shouldn't surprise us.
Awesome but Impractical: Giant Oversouls, such as Yoh's Spirit of Sword are extremely powerful. However, thanks to the size of the Oversoul, these kinds of techniques consume a lot of Furyoku and can only be used for a limited time.
Babies Ever After: Hana, the son of Yoh and Anna, is an example of this, as the author wrote Funbari no Uta after the No Ending of Shaman King.
Though this was hinted when Yoh and Anna "slept together" the night before the start of the Shaman tournament and Yoh's ancestor Asakura Yohken asked Yoh if he had any children, causing Yoh to blush.
Also, at the very end of the manga, Ren also has a son. He refuses to tell who the mother is, but the fact that the boy has silver hair and red eyes implies that it's probably Iron Maiden Jeanne. Plus, there's this. It's not as much implied as it is outright stated.
Big Good/Bigger Bad: The Patch officiants depending on the former Anime version, if the winners attempt to kill the losers during a match or if the Big Bad decides to forcibly use the special official-only secret entrance in the King of Spirits. They can become the latter Manga version if members who made it to the second round quit so that they could use the 15-hour opportunity (that it takes for the winner to become Shaman King) to kill said winner. Which becomes especially sad when four out of ten of them become the real nice guys that forced to hurt teen protagonists, considering the fact that two of them, Sliva and Kalim are close to the group as a whole.
Bishonen Line: The Oversoul mechanic of Shaman fighting provides a weird example. When we're first introduced to the concept, we have a clear distinction between Yoh's vague, billowing Amidamaru O.S. (which is basically a giant ghost-ball clamping Yoh's sword in its teeth) and Silva's five animals in O.S. which form clearly defined, almost crystalline, objects. Yoh's second Amidamaru O.S. resembles the samurai more (and has a more powerful shield), but everyone else around him is already forming well-defined solids. Yoh doesn't form a fully solidified O.S. until he gets to his third, Giant O.S.. In the manga, he even goes so far as to develop an Armor O.S., which, in addition to being less bulky and unwieldy than his Giant O.S., is dense, durable, and can dish out some serious damage.
Blade on a Stick: Ren's Weapon of Choice is a Chinese kwan-dao that he stores in segments in his suitcase when not fighting. How strong is it? In his first appearance, he used it (just it, Over Souls were unknown at the time) to slice a car cleanly in two.
Oh, it gets better than that. In the English dub and the video games based on them, Yoh and crew pass through the town of Duringo and the Redstone national park.
An example that's also a series in-joke: all the "Bone Shell" gas stations
Blatant Lies: Whoever told Yoh that only good people can see spirits. The heroes' include (in order of appearance) a man who beats up kids for fun (Ryu), a murderer who (previous to that act) hates his father (Ren), a sociopath who kills anyone in his way painfully and tried to vivisect another protagonist (Faust), and a gang leader who is also a murderer (Joco). The BBEG is a genocidal sociopath. It's not clear exactly what Hiroyuki Takei's definition of evil is.
The message is more that no one who can see spirits is beyond redemption. All of the listed people, and the Big Bad, manage to be redeemed by their abilities to see spirits or their contact with Yoh.
Boring Yet Practical: Radim's Oversoul, which is basically a Laser Sword. Looks tame compared to most other Oversouls, but it has all his power concentrated in one place, which lets him smash through most other Oversouls and he has Charles Atlas Superpower so he doesn't need the benefits of Armor Oversouls.
Bowdlerise: In the American release of the manga, Ponchi's... gigantic weaponized testicles are censored. In one scene, where he basically immobilizes Manta by wrapping him up with them, it's edited to look like some sort of thick hairy Seran wrap coating, and references are made to Ponchi's tail instead. A much huger variant of the same attack is used later on in the story; there, it's referred to as a "Ghost Bubble". However, the editing in both senes is slight enough that anyone paying attention will figure out what's really going on.
That and in the anime, Jeanne's Iron Maiden is really just a sarcophagus filled with thorns, even in the subbed version.
Marion Fauna's guardian ghost 'Chuck' had his pistols edited (poorly at that)... into rattles.
Break His Heart to Save Him: Non-romantic example - Yoh attempts this on Manta after his first fight against Faust led to poor Manta being vivisected alive and Yoh losing the first round of the Shaman Fight. It doesn't work.
Brilliant but Lazy: Inverted, as much as it can be. Yoh is Brilliant but Lazy, sure. However he wants to be the Shaman King (who essentially gains the powers of God), explicitly so he can relax and do nothing for the rest of his life. He essentially is willing to work his ass off so that he will eventually never have to do anything again.
Came Back Strong: Dying is just about the only way to increase ones spirit power so repeatedly by most fighters.
Can't Catch Up: Subverted, as all the main characters were shown to be at a similar skill level, having each received an upgrade either at the same time as Yoh or independently off screen before their next appearance.
Still played straight in some part though, as Ren still always finds reasons to worry about not being as strong as Yoh, especially when it becomes all about willpower.
Played straight when large segments of the latter portions of the series are all about people trying and failing to catch up to Hao.
Death Is Cheap: By the end of the manga at least four characters (Jeanne, Sati, Faust and Jun) can revive the dead, which comes in pretty handy. At one point, someone points out that Ren has died 3 times. Also see Anyone Can Die.
Inverted with Faust VIII. He defeated Yoh, then Yoh and Anna earned his friendship.
Designated Girl Fight: The Hana-gumi (Team Flower) is pretty guilty of this, as they fight Anna, Tamao, and Tao Jun at the same time (though, all spirits involved are male), and later on they fight Magical Princess, though in a bit of a subversion the other team consists of much older witches.
Doing In the Wizard: "All-natural" Patch handicrafts are in fact modeled on the alien technology given to them by one of The Greys. The Ancient Astronauts trope is also confirmed for all the standard conspiracy theories like dogu statues and pyramids.
Embarrassing Old Photo: In Shaman King Remix, Anna reveals that she has about 1080 embarrasing old photos of Yoh that she uses for "psychological training". Side commentaries wonder if this's the reason for Yoh's Dissonant Serenity.
Emotionless Girl: Seyram Munzer, At the end of the series, where she has an angry charge at Hao, and afterward gained her emotions back (although in her last appearance, she isn't showing much emotion).
Enemy Without/Evil Twin: In this case, the evil Hao split his soul in two as he reincarnated, causing him to be reborn as a good twin and an evil twin. By design, the evil half had the lion's share of power.
Evolutionary Levels: The spirits themselves are said to be subject to a form of this. Human spirits that last long enough with decaying into monstrous forms become Nature spirits (assuming they don't start at this level), which may go on to become oni or gods.
Expy: Gandhara's spirits, for those familiar with Takei's work Butsu Zone, look awfully familiar... Especially the spirits of Team Nyorai. Sati herself seems to be a grown version of Sachi, made more obvious by her spirit being an expy of Sachi's friend Senju. Also, as mentioned previously, Anna is a character in both Butsu Zone and Shaman King, though people are more liable to remember her for her appearance in Shaman King.
Four-Man Band: During the search for the Dobi/Patch village, Yoh, Len, Trey, and Ryo formed a Four-Man Band until they formed a five man band when they met Lyserg, until the X-Laws convinced him to join due to his obsession with destroying Zeke. Pre-Lyserg, they were this:
The Mentor: Sliva and Kalim act as spiritual advisors to the group, particularly Yoh and Trey, even in the manga when they unwillingly turn evil.
After Lyserg leaves the group, Joco and Faust join Yoh's team,as the six of them form two three-man-teams Team Asakura/Funabari Osen (Yoh, Ryo, and Faust) and Team Len/Ren (Len, Trey, Joco) whereas Lyserg joins the X-Laws and Morty, Anna, and Tamara act as Team Asakura's "managers". By the third-to-law parts of the manga, Yoh, Len, Trey, Lyserg, and Joco were revealed to be the Five Elemental Warriors, and at the end of the manga and the anime, the main characters managed to create a nine-man band.
Gainax Ending: Within five chapters from the very end. Hao wakes up as Shaman King. Everyone dies. THEN the final battle starts, but is cut short by the power of love with a dash of Oedipus Rex. Then everyone gets better and has kids. You walk away feeling it is Evangelion with a happy ending.
Gecko Ending: A tad more action-oriented than the manga, basically boiling down to Yoh and Hao clashing. Hao nearly overpowers Yoh until the other Shamans pull a Gondor Calls for Aid and donate their powers to Yoh, effectively putting him on par with Hao until he eventually cuts him down (leading into a bit of Fridge Logic as it's been shown killing him hardly solves anything). The tourney is put on hiatus for a few months as the characters go about their lives... and then it promptly starts again.
And his spirit, Morphine, though that's far more blatant.
That one got changed in the VIZ translation to Morphea. But that's almost certainly meant to make it sound more like a name, as the VIZ translation has not shied away from references to morphine (up to and including showing Faust VIII drinking it with a bendy straw).
There's also a character called Peyote.
In the original artwork, a lot of Yoh's outfits have the symbol of a Marijuana Leaf. Probably to enforce his hippy nature. These were often censored in the Viz release.
In the English dub, Horohoro says to Yoh "After you bite the dust, buddy, naybe you could become the tournament mascot. Maybe a kangaroo or a jackass." To which Yoh responds with "It's a good thing you and I are friends or I would've take offense to that last comment." Considering that it's a 4Kids dub, it's surprising they were able to get away with that.
The dub also threw in a little tidbit for older viewers during a scene wherein Chocolove puts Ren in a dress. Ren says "Like I used to tell June, I do not wear girls' clothes!" A reference to all his bare midriffs and revealing clothing, maybe?
The manga's Distant Finale isn't shy of showing the heroes we love and respect all boozed out. Yes, this includes Lyserg and freaking Manta.
And let's not forget the subtle hints about Yoh and Anna having Their First Time. Talking outside their Big Fancy House in yukatas? Okay. Being the only ones in said house, with not even Amidamaru around? Ho hum. Anna later asking Yoh if they can sleep in the same room that night, with Yoh calmly saying yes? Oooooh. Fans tracing their son Hana's age and conception and finding out that Anna was in the earliest pregnancy stages during the second half of the manga? W O W.
Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: At one point, Mikihisa Asakura slaps the three witches of Team Hana-Gumi in the process of trying to get them to calm down. Matilda, of course, cries out "Even my own parents never hit me!"
Yoh also punches Horohoro while travelling to North America (while the two are falling from a plane) as well as Lyserg the first time they meet.
God Is Evil: As if Hao just being Shaman King wasn't enough to invoke this trope, after he decides not to wipe out the human race he decides to pass the time by messing with Hana. First order of business? Get him an Anna-clone for a fiancee.
Golem: Emeth. Originally a traditional golem built out of clay, he was modified and given many mechanical components and the ability to transform into various shapes.
Gratuitous Spanish: Peyote, who keeps saying "ˇEres Correcto!". This literally transtales to "You are correct!", but in spanish the expression would imply an overly attatchment to correctness, or following rules. The correct expression would be "ˇEstás en lo correcto!" (You're on the right assumption) or "ˇEs correcto!" (That's correct).
Groin Attack: Played straight, inverted, and played straight again with Ponchi, a tanuki spirit who, in one chapter, kicks Wooden Sword Ryu in the groin, attacks Manta with his groin, and then has his groin crushed by Anna.
Also played straight in the manga when Anna kicks Hao before he reveals his armor O.S. Kurobina.
And lest we forget that Ponchi, as a tanuki, has another literal groin attack, which is basically him using his gigantic weaponized testicles (in line with classic tanuki lore). When he reveals this move and tries it against Team Hana-Gumi, the three witches Groin Attack him right back. One gets blown to pieces with a revolver, and the other is severed
Handicapped Badass: Technically, Chocolove is blind, yet he has the highest Furyoku out of the five warriors.
Faust VIII is crippled after his fight with Yoh due to giving his legs to his dead wife's skeleton. When he needs to get out of his wheelchair, he uses his dog's skeleton to make Over Soul legs.
Haunted Headquarters: Yoh and Anna's home. Of course, being a (lazy) shaman and a iron-fisted itako, that tiny detail can't bother them.
Hair Reboot: Violently subverted by Ryu, whose gigantic delinquent pompadour is cut very early into the story. His hair spends about 3/4 of the story re-growing, getting damaged and being rearranged in increasingly bizarre shapes before finally regaining its original form in sort of reverse-Important Haircut moment.
Heal It With Booze: Horohoro uses sake as a disinfectant after tangling with a bear in Colorado.
The Heartless: Oni are little spirit monsters born of the negative emotions of those with furyoku. While alone they're small and weak, if you summon enough they may undergo a Fusion Dance into an Eldritch Abomination (in the style of The Worm That Walks, and often it results in an Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever). In Anna's past, she ended up summoning an Oh-Oni (King Oni) that Yoh helped her put down. While this is the most powerful kind of Oni in the main Shaman King storyline, there's to be an even more powerful Dark Oni, which Hana summoned in Shaman King Flowers. The Dark Oni appears to have a prototype in the Daitaro-Boshi, a giant oni — which was notInvisible to Normals — born from an Onmyouji using a Human Sacrifice to fuse hundreds of oni; this happened in Hao's long, long ago past.
Hero Looking For Group: Somewhat played with. Since the beginning, Ryu has been in desperate search to find his "Best Place", somewhere where he belongs, though his idea of the best place has been more physical, such as a building or a home. But he finds his "Best Place" where the rest of his friends are.
Also Lyserg at first, he claimed to be "searching for allies".
Heel-Face Turn: A lot of characters throughout the series. Noteworthy examples are Ren, Jun, Faust VIII, most of the X-Laws, and Lyserg, after his Face-Heel Turn.
Hypocritical Humor: When Yoh and company have to fight against Dracula, they complain that Dracula's a fictional character, apparently ignoring that Yoh had already gone up against a descendent of Faust.
I Was Just Passing Through: Inverted and overlapping with Embarrassing Rescue. In the anime, our heroes save their " enemy" in this fashion. Hao is pissed with the X-Laws for meddling with Yoh and decides to have his minions teach them a lesson. However, Yoh and the others can't stand to watch the slaughtering and decide to step in.
Horohoro: Whoa, don't get the wrong idea here. Joco: It's not like we came to save you guys. Ren: It's just how things turned out. Marco: If I'm at the mercy of my enemies, then I'd rather choose a noble death! Ren: Do whatever you like. But if you want to die, do it somewhere we can't see you.
In true Determinator and Ungrateful Bastard form, the remaining X-Laws respond to their rescue by continuing with their plans resulting in their saviours being sucked into the Gate of Babylon.
Improbable Weapon User: Just on the good guy's team, we have Horohoro, who wields a snowboard, "Wooden Sword" Ryu, who wields a wooden sword, and Lyserg, who uses a divining pendulum and wire. However, the mechanics of the Over Soul means that any item can be a sufficiently deadly weapon, so long as it has some connection to the spirit.
Ineffectual Loners: The entirety of the X-Laws were not only Determinators, but killed indiscriminately to try and stop Hao. In the end, their efforts amount to getting annihilated by Hao and making him powerful enough to become a god.
Invisible to Normals: One of the rules of the series is, if you can see spirits, there's got to be at least some good in you. This little moral litmus test is quickly turned on its head, as Hao intends to wipe all the normals out of existence.
Karma Houdini: Faust VIII never really gets so much as yelled at for 1) slaughtering his first opponent and 2) doing... what he did to poor Manta. On the other hand, in the anime he does show genuine care for human life during the Shaman Tournament, and practically brings Len back from the dead during the final fight, which means he'd redeemed himself. In the manga, he ends up sacrificing himself so that the Five Warriors can continue trying to catch up to Hao, his death doesn't mean that much though as he just hangs around as a ghost.
Then there's Hao himself. He wins the tournament without even trying, despite the heroes' best efforts. He then becomes Shaman King and is even allowed to keep the title despite all the evil deeds he's done, which includes killing likely thousands of people. He only gets off with a slap from his mother and a bit of embarrassment due to this. Though he seems to get his 'just desserts' in the anime.
Katanas Are Just Better: Averted for the most part. Despite wielding a legendary katana, and being possessed by the spirit of that katana's owner, Yoh doesn't do much that's too crazy with Harusame until he starts using it for an Over Soul.
Kid Hero: Most of the main cast are this. Yoh. Ren. Horohoro. Chocolove. Lyserg...
Kick the Dog: Pretty much everyone on Hao's side slaughtered or tried to slaughter innocent bystanders and children, or otherwise enjoyed brutally inflicting pain, especially in the manga. Tao Ren also had a few of those moments before his Heel-Face Turn. Ren's father deserves a mention for accidentally crushing the head of his pet (zombie) panda in his hand for no good reason. Iron Maiden Jeanne hastily executed any opposition using torture devices, though at least she didn't exactly look happy about that. Tokagero was a real meanie before being defeated too.
Kill Sat: In the manga, three of the X-Laws make a last-ditch attempt to kill Hao by shooting him with a satellite. It doesn't scratch him, of course.
Ren has some very Expressive Hair and in one scene this is pointed out by Bason when Ren is angered.
Bason: Ooh! Young Master's spiky hair has stiffened!
When it is revealed that Hao is Yoh's twin brother. In a dramatic shot, we see an uncharacteristically solemn-looking Yoh seemingly deep in contemplation after this revelation until he breaks the tension with a sigh and a smile...
Yoh: It's no use. Even though you just said we're twins, it still hasn't sunk in. Horohoro: Weren't you just full of anxiety and couldn't talk?! God, you're so confusing!
The Niles, a team of Egyptian shamans, are explaining their origins...
Ryu's spirit, Tokagero, has a really disturbing background. His mother died of starvation, and he had to cannibalize her in order to survive.
Anna and Yoh's night together. Anna gives Yoh a little parting gift before he heads to America. Seeing as how they were both 15, it's no wonder it got cut; but since there was a very good chance Yoh would die, Anna wanted to make sure a child lived on.
The X-Laws are vicious bastards in the manga, they don't even flinch when their leader, Iron Maiden Jeanne, tortuously kills people or when Hao kills one of their own in even more gruesome detail.
Ren murdering Chrome was not shown in the anime, but shown completely in the manga (both the result when it happened and again showing the whole scene later on).
Chocolove's past from the manga is both incredibly offensive, and utterly tragic. His parents were killed on Christmas Day, turning him into a vicious killer, and leader of the gang, Shaft. He murders people in cold blood, but has his life turned around by a man named Orona. Those who watched the anime know Orona died, but in the manga he didn't die of old age — he was murdered by Chocolove's gang.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Not as many as some other manga. But enough to make you go "Oh yeah... That guy who hasn't done anything for like 30 chapters". Manta is probably the biggest offender. There are big chunks of the series where nobody reading knows where he is or why they should care. And than all of sudden, there he is. It's like the story kinda left him behind. The series also had a reeeally bad tendency to introduce tons of characters out of nowhere and make them disapear just as fast.
Lolicon: Ryu has quite a fascination with girls far younger than him, and even Horohoro's spirit. And Lyserg.
Love at First Punch: The first thing Anna said to Yoh when they first met, was that he was blocking her way and should go die.
Hao. In a side story, it is revealed his mother was a shaman and was killed by a fake medium in order to cover up his scams after framing her as a demon. Once Hao finds out he isn't a half-demon, but a normal human with a gift for shamanism he decides that it's time for vengeance.
Magical Computer: Manta's laptop becomes a literal example after Mosuke decides to move in.
Chapter 79 also features a shaman who looks suspiciously like Hitler.
In the stands at one of the tournament battles, one can see a rather shocked looking Michael Jackson.
No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: Averted. The manga lists Jesus, Muhammad, and Gautama Buddha as previous holders of the title "Shaman King". However, given that the Shaman King is actually a spirit-medium who communes directly with God, he's far from being "just" a wizard.
Noble Savage: Subverted with the Native American Patch tribe, who have "traditional native hand-crafted" versions of high-tech consumer electronics and are shamelessly merchandising the Shaman Fight for money.
The "hand-crafted" part is probably true, as implied in the last chapter.
Offhand Backhand: During the fight with Boris Tepes Dracula, Boris zips behind "Wooden Sword" Ryu, boasting that he has no time to dodge or use his sword; so Ryu simply pops him one with his fist, without turning around.
Off Model: Happened occasionally in the very early chapters. Yoh had huge feet and hands, (and a long bang of hair that disappeared after like 3 volumes), Ren's hair was very jagged then he goes away for awhile and when he comes back into the series his hair is much more rounded and smooth. Manta had tiny feet, Anna had a big forehead, etc. Also, compare the diagram of Shaman Fight contestants in Chapter 78 with the updated version of the same people in Chapter 208 and see the incredible difference.
One Myth to Explain Them All: All prophets/chosen people in different cultures as being Shaman Kings from previous tournaments, although they only imply that with the most known ones, Jesus and Buddha. Some spirits used by shamans seem to be portrayed as Gods, too, like Shamash, and the Sphynx.
Opposites Attract: Just look at the calm, easy-going Yoh and the short-tempered, intimidating Anna.
Our Vampires Are Different: Played totally straight by Boris Tepes Dracula. Sort of. He turns out to not be a vampire in the end there.
Plucky Comic Relief: Chocolove, who is different from most examples in that he's actually funny and useful in battle.
Power Fist: In the manga at least, Lee Bailong gets a mechanized installment that can propel his fist forward with the explosion of a gunpowder canister. Helps that he is a physical zombie as opposed to the spirits used by the rest of the Shamans.
Pretty Freeloader: Anna, for some. Though considering how she's the one who comes up with the Training from Hell menus and Yoh does become stronger from them, she seems to consider said menus as payment.
Scenery Censor: Takei chooses a weird way to evoke this — he uses a star to cover Hao's private parts when he's in a hot spring.
Other examples include their spirit partners and other characters' heads.
Shaggy Dog Story: None of the heroes win the tourney nor stop Hao from obtaining the Shaman King title. The most victory they get is, at the least, convincing him to not to destroy humanity. For now.
They don't even really convince him not to destroy humanity, really. It's implied by the main characters in the last chapter that Hao in fact brought them all back to life to prove that he was right. To elaborate, at the end of the final battle in the manga, Hao basically tells them all that since they're so convinced of the good in people, he'll revive them so they can try and "fix" everything. Cue the last chapter, 5 years into the future where our heroes admit that they learned pretty quickly that they couldn't change the world, and Hao probably knew this when he sent them back. No, they didn't convince him not to destroy humanity, Hao just decided it'd be more amusing to rub the fact that he was right in their faces.
Actually he did say he'd let humans have a chance to solve their own problems even though he does still hate them. For now at least they aren't going to be killed
In the manga's last pages we see Hao visiting the world once again and he smiles upon seeing a cat. Considering he did not destroy humanity it looks like things look better for him... or maybe he just understood his mother's feeling.
Faust's backstory is definitely this. Faust studies all his life to become a doctor, barely having any time for a social life until he meets the one girl who befriends him and falls in love at first sight. The problem is, she has an incurable disease. Faust works his ass off for 20 years and then... SHE'S CURED! But on the first night in their new home she's killed by a burglar.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: In the anime, especially, to the point of frustration. (How did THAT many Shamans end up with Giant Over Soul? It was supposed to be rare!)
Considering the tournament (and in fact most tournaments in anything) is essentially a Sorting Algorithm of Power, not quite surprising.
Story-Breaker Power: Aside from Hao in general, its implied that Yoh's Mu-Mu-Myou-Yaku-Mu is this. Being a purification technique, it is essentialy a One-Hit Kill against any kind of Oversoul, all while carrying the efficiency of Armor Oversouls. Aside from being a unique technique according to the cast, it is proven to be so powerful that Yoh manage to defeat the power that has defeated Hao in the past, and win, and stand against Ren's whole team alone, all of them with their own Armor Oversoul.
Theme Music Power-Up: Any time Brave Heart plays, you will receive plot exposition/explanation of sudden understanding, and complete and utter defeat of all opponents. It's subverted a few times, but generally played straight.
Horribly averted in episode 62 with "Silent Weapon". You keep expecting that at some point Yoh takes down Hao but it gets worse.
Theme Naming: The Patch tribe members are all named after elements of the periodic table: Silva (Silver), Goldva (Gold), Kalim (Kalium, another name for Potassium), Rutherfor (Rutherfordium), and so on.
The Gandhara are all named after supermarket chains in Japan, the X-Laws and Team Kabbalahers are partially named after tobacco brands. Team Iceman members are partially named ice cream brands while Team Niles has members named after Pocky, Pretz, and Picola and famous Egyptian historical figures.
They're Called Personal Issues For A Reason: Nearly the entire cast have some form of horrendous past and most will expound on theirs at some point. Notable exceptions, however, would be Hao, Anna, and Yoh himself. Their backstories only come to light in personal flashbacks and explanations by other characters.
Those Two Guys: More like Those Nine Guys, or rather, the guys that make up Ryu's gang. Though one of them, Muscle Punch, does get a few lines.
Also, in the anime, Zen and Ryo.
The Bad Guy Wins: Subverted AND played straight. While they fail to stop Hao from obtaining the Great Spirit, they do persuade him to abandon his "kill all humans" plan.
Tomboy and Girly Girl: Anna and Tamao are an interesting reversal. Anna is the more feminine-looking of the two and is much more aggressive, while Tamao is shyer and more feminine in personality, but could easily be mistaken for a boy at first glance.
Understanding Boyfriend: Yoh's father Mikihisa was the first and only guy who didn't dump his mother Keiko upon learning that she could see spirits. In fact, they met when she was crying over the last Jerk Ass and he comforted her.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: Tamao. Even though she likes Yoh, the chances of her getting together with him are close to none, as Yoh is engaged to Anna (and doesn't mind the fact either).
"Close to none"? Yoh apparently fell in love with Anna at first sight, despite the fact that she told him to die for blocking her path when they met.
Unstoppable Rage: Subverted, shockingly. See, when Yoh and Faust VIII fight, Yoh gets really uncharacteristically enraged at Faust for trying to torture Manta. Said not only doesn't make him stronger, it makes him exhaust his spiritual energy much faster. Yoh learns from this, and puts it to use during his qualifying fight with Ren, who is stronger than him but much easier to provoke. Before long, Ren can't even tell when his hits are landing anymore.
This trope is Deconstructed especially in later fights. If you lose your cool, 9 times out of 10 you WILL LOSE your fight.
Villainous Breakdown: Though she isn't a villain, Goldva started laughing insanely and raving about the new Shaman King Hao.
Hao also experiences this in the anime, when Yoh breaks free. He becomes a lot less cheery and a lot... crazier. He is pushed even farther over the edge when Opacho, his last and closest companion, runs away from him in fear.
Let us not forget that classic "Mikihisa in a really small towel" scene. Not to mention Ren in the brief period after he gets killed by Peyote's Over Soul, Grande Fantasma. Damn, all the main male characters take a freaking bath together! And the main male cast usually take a lot of baths, with different sets of main characters, depending on how far along the story you are.
Wham Episode: Chapter 161: Ren is dead, and Yoh has gotten Manta to bring the X-LAWS to revive him. Marco tells Yoh that they will revive him, on one condition. Yoh has to resign from the Shaman Fight. So Yoh does what any Shounen protagonist would do and abandons his Oracle Pager, signifying his resignation from the tournament. Even Marco is astonished and appalled by this.
What the Hell, Hero??: Everything Yoh does always gives these types of reactions but what could probably be the worst is that he takes coffee with the big bad, Hao! Most of his friends react horribly to this.
Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Wooden Sword Ryu wields, well, a wooden sword. Against people who metal swords, halberd and the like. But when he awakens to his shamanic powers, that wooden sword becomes as awesome as any other shamanic focus.